DeKALB — The baseball team won its second Mid-American conference series of the year, sweeping the Ohio Bobcats for the first time since 2007 over the weekend.
NIU held off a Bobcats comeback Friday, kept Ohio in check Saturday and capitalized off early errors to get the sweep Sunday.
“We pitched and played defense,” Head Coach Mike Kunigonis said. “That, combined with timely hitting, is the recipe for winning any baseball game.”
The star of the weekend for NIU was first-year infielder Nick Drobushevich, who went 5-for-11 with five RBIs.
Drobushevich said weekends like this help him ease through his first season of Division 1 baseball.
“Coming in at the beginning of the season as a [first-year], it’s easy to get kind of intimidated out here,” Drobushevich said.
Friday – Huskies 7, Bobcats 6
Ohio got out to an early lead in the top of the third, putting NIU down 3-0 before sending a batter to the plate.
The Huskies were able to answer, as junior catcher Jake Dunham scored a pair of runs on a 2-RBI double to right field.
Redshirt sophomore outfielder Kam Smith put NIU in the lead with a 2-run homer to left field off senior pitcher Kenny Ogg. The Huskies led 4-3 after the first.
The Huskies extended their lead in the third with an RBI single by Drobushevich to make the score 5-3.
NIU scored two more runs in the eighth with junior infielder Dylan Lonteen bringing home two more runs with a single.
The Bobcats needed a big comeback in the ninth, and a home run by senior Rudy Rott scored three runs and brought NIU’s lead down to one.
After allowing his first three batters to reach, junior pitcher Nate Thomas sat down the next three to finish off the Bobcats.
Junior pitcher Eric Hedmark was credited with his second win of the year in a 6.2 inning start.
Saturday – Huskies 5, Bobcats 2
Senior pitcher William Anderson gave Ohio a handful in his start Saturday, holding the Bobcats scoreless after seven innings.
In total, Anderson left eight Ohio runners stranded, including getting out of a bases loaded jam in the first and leaving two more on in the second.
Related: Huskies swept by Central Michigan to fall to 3-3 in MAC play
NIU put up its first runs in the third, with junior outfielder Brendan Joyce scoring a run with an RBI single.
Drobushevich scored two more runs with a single of his own to make it 3-0 after three.
The first-year from Moline struck again in the fifth, scoring another RBI single off a Bobcats fielding error.
Smith followed with an RBI single to put NIU up 5-0.
Rott again tried to create a comeback for the Bobcats, doubling to right center to score a pair of runners. Ultimately, it was too little too late as NIU secured the 5-2 win.
Sunday – Huskies 5, Bobcats 1
After an opening inning run by the Bobcats, NIU capitalized off three errors to lead 5-1 after one.
By the end of the game, Ohio would commit a total of five errors.
Junior infielder Tommy Szczasny scored off a fielding error to tie the game before Drobushevich hit a bases loaded RBI single to give NIU the lead.
The Huskies were also propelled ahead with an RBI single from junior outfielder Josh Mutter and two more unearned runs.
Junior Ryan Anderson gave the Huskies a quality start, not allowing an earned run in 7.1 innings to pick up the win. Kunigonis credited both Andersons for their quality starts to help the bullpen get some rest.
“Those guys were both fantastic,” Kunigonis said. “We needed it. We needed to give our bullpen as much rest as possible.”
The Huskies MAC record moves to 6-3 while they improve to 10-21 overall.
NIU will host a pair of non-conference opponents for their mid-week stretch, facing the UIC Flames Tuesday and the Robert Morris Eagles Wednesday.